I was lucky enough to be in a group that shows lots of support and patience. I wasn’t able to attend the initial meeting. Because of the connection issue, I was not able to participate in the online discussion. At that moment, my only hope was to know what is going on. At the same time, I was worried and quite reluctant to offer suggestions and opinions due to the insecure feeling. Gladly, our team were able to provide information and skills to help me to understand and participate in the later collection and analysis process – where I had some challenges and tensions, and gained valuable experience.
During data collection, the group that I was in created a new category – An image that doesn’t include humans and represents community of practice. People in the group engaged in the discussion and showed supports to each other. They had a great discussion about why choosing community of practice. However, I had a difficult time to record and participate, as I was trying to be mindful of my presence and my roles in the discussion. I was not sure if I should make some comments or simply showing welcoming and engaging expression. The roles of observer and participant kept shifting back and forth. I noticed the tension when I gently reminded them about our task and asked how it related to the original three categories. I thought I was helpful of digging more details until there was a moment of silence in the discussion – I could not tell if they were waiting for me to give some feedback, if they were interrupted by my comments, or some other reasons. Pedretti (1996) argues that tensions sometimes encourage “clarification and development of understanding of various roles (p. 309)” but sometimes can produce anxiety and hinder the process. That’s when my “triple loop awareness” (McCallum, 2007, p.4) went off-tune when I started to be sensitive about people’s feelings rather than what they were saying. I started to feel anxious because I thought I made the conversation “inauthentic” and led the way I wanted by interrupting the conversation. Mazzei (2007) said silence is to “make space (p. 636)” for unspoken text and deeper meaning. I keep thinking what is behind that silence – Did they see me as an “outsider”? Did my English hinder the conversation? How did they feel at that moment? As a new researcher, should I BE in the moment or should I be in the MOMENT?
If I were asked to do it again, I would like to spent some time to focus on our communal goals and work later procedures towards that. We found our study focuses more on broader sense of community, and omitted the solutions to specifically faculty of education. Because of that, we found it quite challenging to re-categorize the old images to new categories related to faculty of education. However, I found the most valuable experience through the whole process is the data analysis. In the process, we have to read the old images from a different perspective. Through understanding, re-categorizing, and comparing images, we were able to understand and interpret our co-researchers’ ideas along with ourselves.
Mazzei, L. A. (2007). Toward a problematic of silence in action research. Educational Action Research, 15(4), 631–642. https://doi.org/10.1080/09650790701664054
McCallum, D., & Nicolaides, A. (2017). Cultivating Intention (As we Enter the Fray): The Skillful Practice of Embodying Presence, Awareness, and Purpose as Action Researchers. The SAGE Handbook of Action Research, 643–652. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781473921290.n67
Pedretti, E. (1996). Facilitating action research in science, technology and society (STS) education: An experience in reflective practice. Educational Action Research, 4(3), 307-327. https://doi.org/10.1080/0965079960040303